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How Big Game Licenses are Issued


CHEYENNE - Every year following the major draws for elk, deer, and antelope licenses, plans for fall hunting trips are made as hunters learn if the computer has selected their name for their hunting area of choice.

And while thousands of hunters receive licenses for their favored areas, there are thousands of others who are not drawn. In many situations, drawing a license is just a matter of blind luck, but if hunters are willing to look at a variety of areas, a little research can improve odds of getting a license.

Hunters can often improve their drawing odds by going into the Game and Fish website and researching odds for the previous year. But odds fluctuate depending on interest in a particular area and the quota that is being offered for that year. Through all that change, several things have remained constant. It is a given that areas that have a long-standing reputation for producing trophies, high hunter success and lots of public access will have a lot of competition for licenses. It is also a given that most areas with very limited public access will have much more friendly drawing odds.

In all areas with difficult drawing odds, the vast majority of the hunters will be residents. For limited quota licenses,Wyoming regulation provides that residents receive 84 percent of elk, 80 percent of antelope, deer, moose, and mountain goat licenses and 75 percent of bighorn sheep licenses. While a resident can buy a general elk or deer license over the counter, those licenses are limited for nonresidents. To receive a general license, nonresidents compete with other nonresidents in the drawing. Because of separate quotas for each, residents are competing with other residents for hard-to-get areas just as nonresidents are competing with nonresidents for their respective quota.

After the initial drawing there are always a number of areas which have more quota than applicants. These licenses are usually in private land areas and are not taken because the demand is greater in public land areas and because many of the private land areas simply have more animals and greater quotas than public land areas.

If the resident or nonresident does not take their allotted quota in the drawings, the remaining licenses are placed in the leftover license pool and are issued to both resident and nonresident alike on a first-come first-served basis after certain dates. This year the full-price leftover licenses went on sale July 10 and leftover reduced price licenses went on sale a week later on July 17.

In some areas there seems to be more reluctance on the part of residents over nonresidents to pick up leftover licenses, especially in private land areas, which means it is possible there may be more nonresidents and fewer residents in some areas.

“Once a license is leftover following the drawings, everyone regardless of residency status, has the opportunity to obtain those licenses,” said Millissa Raner, Game and Fish license supervisor.

According to the Game and Fish, in recent years, license quotas in many areas--especially those with good public access--have been taken in the drawings.

“Usually, hunters have a much better opportunity of obtaining a license in the initial drawings rather than taking a chance that a hunt area will be undersubscribed and picking up the license as a leftover,” Raner said. “Hunters are encouraged to apply for licenses in the drawings rather waiting to see which areas are undersubscribed.”

(Contact: Al Langston, 307-777-4594)



Wyoming Game & Fish Department Headquarters
5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006
ph: (307) 777-4600
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